Manchester United will be looking to book their place in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup when they take on League Two outfit Colchester United on Wednesday.
Manchester United will welcome League Two side Colchester United to Old Trafford for their Carabao Cup quarter-final contest on Wednesday night.
Manchester United had to rely on penalties to get past Rochdale in the third round of the Carabao Cup, before beating Chelsea 2-1 in the previous round. Things were looking bright for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team after three wins in a row against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and AZ Alkmaar.
But, Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton at home on Sunday, highlighting the problems that they have encountered when facing teams that are organised and compact. And they will face a similar challenge when they will clash against Colchester, who have conceded just one goal in four games in Carabao Cup.
The U’s, managed by John McGreal, have been punching well above their weight in the Carabao Cup this term. Colchester beat Swindon Town in the first round of the competition and dispatched two Premier League sides – Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur on penalties, before beating Crawley Town 3-1 in the Round of 16.
Colchester have been in a decent run of form, losing just two of their last ten matches across all competitions (W5 D3), with their most recent fixture ending in a 2-2 draw against Scunthorpe United. In what will be their first ever game at Old Trafford, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United star Paul Pogba’s return from injury has suffered a slight setback, with the Frenchman down with an illness. Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are closing on a return along with Marcos Rojo, but Wednesday’s game comes too soon for them. Diogo Dalot has trained for a week now and could be in contention to feature.
With a pile-up of fixtures lying ahead, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to rotate his troops heavily against Colchester. Starting in goal, Sergio Romero should replace first-choice custodian David de Gea. The fit-again Dalot and Brandon Williams are likely to slot in as the full-backs, with Axel Tuanzebe pairing up with Phil Jones at the centre of the Manchester United backline.
Nemanja Matic made his return from injury last week against AZ Alkmaar and could be in line for a start against Colchester. The Serb is likely to be partnered by academy prospect James Garner once again, with Juan Mata set to slot in as the No. 10 after an impressive display in the Europa League clash last week.
Tahith Chong and Andreas Pereira are likely to get the nod on the flanks against the League Two outfit, while Mason Greenwood should start as the centre-forward, after scoring in his last two appearances.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Romero; Dalot, Tuanzebe, Jones, Williams; Garner, Matic; Chong, Mata, Pereira; Greenwood
Courtney Senior is a doubt for the U’s after being substituted at half-time with an injury in the weekend clash against Scunthorpe, while Paris Cowan-Hall is another player whose involvement on Wednesday is under a cloud of doubt. Manager John McGreal is expected to field his strongest XI, as he seeks to take Colchester to their first-ever League Cup semi-final.
Goalkeeper Dean Gerken was the hero for Colchester in their penalty shootout wins against Tottenham and Crystal Palace and is a definite starter. Former Arsenal man Cohen Bramall and Ryan Jackson ought to be the two full-backs while Tom Eastman and captain Luke Prosser will pair up at the heart of the defence that has conceded just once in the Carabao Cup this term.
Brandon Comley is a guaranteed starter in one of the two pivot positions for Colchester at Old Trafford. Ben Stevenson could return to the squad, having been sidelined with a back problem. However, he might not be rushed back right into the starting XI by the manager, with Tom Lapslie likely to get the nod alongside Comley.
Kwame Poku is likely to be retained in the No. 10 role ahead of Jevani Brown once again. Callum Harriott, who replaced the injured Senior in the last game, is in line to start on the right flank while Frank Nouble should continue on the left. Luke Norris ought to spearhead the attack for the U’s at Old Trafford.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gerken; Jackson, Eastman, Prosser, Bramall; Comley, Lapslie; Harriott, Poku, Nouble; Norris
- This will be only the third time that Manchester United and Colchester United are facing each other. The first two clashes, both of which came in cup competitions, ended in victories for the Red Devils.
- Manchester United are the third-most successful club in the League Cup, having lifted the trophy on five occasions, with the latest being in 2016-17 under Jose Mourinho. Only Liverpool (6) and Manchester City (6) have won the competition more times.
- This will be Colchester United’s only second quarter-final appearance in the League Cup. The last time they made it this far in the competition was in 1974, but were eliminated by Aston Villa.
- Manchester United have been beaten at Old Trafford just once in all competitions this season – a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace back in August in the Premier League.
- Colchester United are unbeaten in their last five matches away from home across all competitions (W2 D3).
Player to Watch
The Manchester United academy ace is carving out quite the reputation for himself, after impressing on a consistent basis for the first-team this season. Greenwood has featured in 19 matches for Solskjaer’s team this term, scoring seven goals in the process and setting up two more.
Greenwood scored a match-winning brace last week against AZ Alkmaar and was once again on the scoresheet at the weekend, scoring against Everton to salvage a point for his team. The 18-year-old is now Manchester United’s second highest goalscorer in all competitions for the season, only behind Marcus Rashford.
Greenwood found the back of the net in the third round fixture against Rochdale and dispatched a nerveless penalty in the ensuing shootout as well. He will be keen on building on his goalscoring form and stake a claim for the starting spot week in week out ahead of the misfiring Anthony Martial.
Manchester United 2-0 Colchester United
Manchester United have found it difficult to break down oppositions who deploy a deep defensive block and these problems are likely to surface once again against a disciplined Colchester United defence, who have conceded just once in the Carabao Cup.
The U’s have already pulled off a couple of huge upsets this term, eliminating Tottenham and Crystal Palace from the competition and will look to bag another major scalp on Wednesday. However, despite United’s problems, they have lost just once at home this term and have enough quality in their ranks to see off the League Two outfit to advance to the semi-final.